Nurse and expert on children’s health to influence America’s health policy at leading national health organization
Sally S. Cohen, PhD, RN, FAAN, has been chosen as the 2014-2015 Distinguished Nurse Scholar-in-Residence at the Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academies.
Formed by a congressional charter, the IOM provides analysis and advice on medicine and health with the goal of improving the nation’s health system. The IOM Distinguished Nurse Scholar-in-Residence program, initiated in 1992, provides a yearlong leadership opportunity to participate in shaping health policy.
As a scholar-in-residence, Cohen will work on child health policy, an area in which she has made significant contributions, as evidenced through the publication of her research in peer-reviewed journals as well as her book, Championing Child Care, in which she analyzed three decades of national child care policies and politics.
Cohen holds an endowed chair of nursing and is director of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Nursing and Health Policy Collaborative at the University of New Mexico. She is a member of the New Mexico State Nurses Association and, for her notable contributions, was inducted as a fellow of the American Academy of Nursing in 1988.
“It is an honor to be selected as this year’s scholar,” Cohen said. “I accept the responsibility that accompanies this honor to advance nursing and health policy leadership, especially as it concerns children’s issues and bullying prevention.”
During her tenure as scholar, Cohen will focus on childhood bullying, which has been known to cause lifelong health problems for both the victim and the aggressor. As a parent, Cohen has witnessed the long-term effects bullying has had on her child and family and, as a pediatric nurse practitioner with decades of studying children’s policies, she has “seen the serious gaps in policies to address this increasingly life-threatening issue for children.”
“We are late in focusing on bullying prevention as a nation,” said Cohen, “as evidenced by the tragic deaths and traumatic experiences, including cyberbullying, that too many of our youth have experienced already.”
Cohen appreciates that bullying has finally received national attention. While many federal, state and local governments, along with countless private groups, are proposing or implementing prevention programs, it isn’t clear which are most effective and why. Cohen seeks to untangle this web of overlapping activities to see what is working best, what isn’t working, what gaps there may be and how the policy stakeholders interact to effect policy change.
Cohen said, “We have a growing body of evidence available to determine data gaps, best practices, and how to develop national policies that are relevant to states, communities, school districts and, most of all, children themselves. As with so many issues, prevention is very important.”
The Distinguished IOM Nurse Scholar-in-Residence program is supported by the American Academy of Nursing, the American Nurses Association and the American Nurses Foundation (ANF). Gifts to the Academy’s Rheba de Tornyay development fund and the ANF Annual Fund support the Scholar-in-Residence program.
In collaboration with other health and nurse experts, Cohen will use her time at the IOM to draft innovative policy approaches and best practices for bullying prevention. She hopes that her work will continue to inform and engage the health care community and the public on this very important and timely issue.